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02 October 2014

Trying an Android watch

I bought an LG G Watch after they were launched at the Google I/O conference this year (June 25th).

There were a lot of reasons not to. At the time the reviews said the Samsung Galaxy Gear Live was better. Months before that, in March, the Moto 360 teaser went out and everyone got excited about round faces. The rumors of the Apple Watch release were already solidified (and indeed, they've since pre-announced it). And generally the whole ideal of a smart watch seems stupid, excessive, and wasteful.

But I wanted to give it a try! Wearable computing is supposed to be the future (?). I wore the watch for a few weeks.

What I liked:
  • I could stop checking my phone for notifications
  • I could send text messages by voice from my wrist at a stop light while biking
  • The watch could reliably tell time

What I didn't like:
  • It was illegible in the sun
  • Once you dismissed a notification there's no way to get it back
  • The microphone didn't deal well with wind or noise

I put it down for a couple months. The watch was reasonably useful, but I felt like it's still a version one product. I anticipated the Moto 360 would be awesome and the Apple Watch would redefine the category. Now both of those are here and they're not as good as I expected. The Moto 360 has a fatal flaw (the "flat tire" at the bottom of the screen) and it's round face causes status message to be cut off in dumb ways (like the HD TV effect).

The Apple Watch is absurdly complicated: it's got buttons; it's got a wheelie thing; the touch screen has a sense of pressure — Steve Jobs is rolling in his grave. I found that the Apple Watch and LG G are about the same size and thickness. The LG G Watch has no buttons, only a touch screen and contacts to charge it.

After seeing all this I put the LG G Watch back on. It's still a version one product, but at least it's improved since I last used it. The latest Android Wear software is better. Strava works well with the watch now. And there are more apps to try, such as Facer. I'll give it another month and see if it sticks.
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